2009 Porsche Boxster
The Porsche brand has come to be synonymous with precision, power and best-in-class handling, making it a key benchmark for performance cars. While that's great for Porsche owners, it also means every manufacturer with an eye toward building a quick machine starts to compare itself to the iconic brand from Stuttgart. Competitors across the spectrum have stepped up the game to knock on the German builder's garage door with more horsepower and comparable handling in less expensive packages. Never one to stop and let the rest of the field catch up, Porsche has upped its game for 2009 with more powerful, efficient engines and one very clever new transmission. While the king of the hill 911 has benefited from these none-too-subtle changes, Porsche wasn't about to let its entry-level Boxster
get left behind. For 2009, the 911's baby brother gets a slew of changes, all for the better. While it may not look very different from the outside - the design changes are evolutionary, not revolutionary - it's a completely different car under the taut sheet metal. Porsche has equipped the two-seat ragtop with its revolutionary new double-clutch PDK gearbox, which means both Teutonically precise shifts, a sport mode to rival the field and, as an added bonus, better fuel economy. All are reasons that give even hardcore fans of manual transmissions something to smile about.
What's to Like
Porsche's facing tighter emissions and fuel consumption standards from the European Union and the U.S. That's usually bad news for a sports car company as it means an end to high-horsepower motors, but Porsche has responded with an all-new 3.4 liter, 310 horsepower direct-injection (DFI) flat six-cylinder 'boxster' engine. With 15 more horses than the previous model, the 2009 model still manages to deliver 11 percent better fuel economy – up to 30.1 mpg. Did we mention we love the PDK? We love the PDK!
What's Not to Like
As vastly different as the 2009 Porsche Boxster PDK is mechanically from earlier models, the styling outside remains close to the original, yet iconic theme. It's an attractive design, no doubt, but we would have liked something a little more advanced. That said, you can make the same remarks about the 911.
DriverSide Driving Impressions:
Few feelings can surpass rolling down your favorite road with the top down on a sunny day – especially if you happen to be behind the wheel of a Porsche. The Boxster serves up an iconic and essential roadster experience with a well-balanced, lithe chassis that relies both on it being lightweight as well as powerful. The Boxster S's powerful 310 horsepower flat-six provides plenty of muscle for such a small, lightweight roadster, with the handling characteristics that Stuttgart is known for. The Boxster S's mid-engine, rear-wheel drive set up delivers near perfect balance and makes for a ride that's both playful and planted. Unlike mega-horsepower monsters out there, the Boxster isn't likely to scold you for driving beyond your limits and kick you back in your seat with brute force. Instead, the Boxster S provides a steady, well-balanced platform that's just as happy tearing it up on the track as it is spiriting you to work and back - top down, of course. The interior is comfortable and may we add, quiet as a library, with either the top up or down.
Engine and Drivetrain
Porsche blessed the new Boxster S with a 3.4-liter version of its direct-injection flat-six engine. The motor produces 310 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque – more than the previous generation – while returning improved fuel economy. Coupled to the company's new, pitch-perfect, seven-speed double-clutch, or PDK, transmission the slick engine gets a gear for every occasion. Sport mode really kicks it up a few notches and always seems to anticipate the right gear, something that some find difficult to do. Porsche has also added for the first time a mechanically locking rear differential, which helps the Boxster come closer to 911 range. There is also a new six-speed gearbox for 2009, replacing the outgoing five-speed.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
The 2009 Porsche Boxster PDK can be optioned with a Sports Chrono Package, which we advise. Along with a new speedometer and tachometer, the package gives drivers the option of launch control via a Sports Plus button on the dash. Press the button and launch mode is activated – allowing for perfect launches from standstill. The new bit of tech helps to get the new Boxster to 60 mph .2 seconds faster than the previous model. That may not seem like much, but in the sports car world it is the equivalent of forever. There are also optional heated and cooled seats.
Key Technology Evaluation
This Porsche comes with a potent MP3/CD audio system controlled by the car's PCM 3.0 communication management system. The interface has been reworked to be easier to use with a larger touch-screen interface. If the base sound system isn't enough to cure your audio itch, you can also opt for a ten-speaker Bose system.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Boasting as much as a 15 percent increase over the 2008 model, the Boxster PDK should be capable of 21 mpg city and up to 30 mpg highway. That makes for a respectable 26 mpg combined.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Top-down fun doesn't mean unsafe. Porsche has wrapped its leather-clad interior with front, head and thorax airbags – more than just about any other convertible out there. The result is one of the safest ways to feel the wind in your hair. That said, there is no way you won't be able to tell you're in a Porsche. Ergonomic and utilitarian styling mix with a well defined sense of German luxe, something very Porsche.
While the Boxster's exterior hasn't changed too much from its inception, it has received quite a few tweaks to differentiate it from previous models, including a revised front and rear fascia, larger air intakes, a new rear diffuser, LED fog lights and turning indicators integrated into the halogen headlights. This creates a tauter and more muscular Boxster. Porsche says the new design gives their iconic roaster a more masculine feel in a dynamic and fresh way. We tend to agree.
Market Segment and Pricing
Porsche has priced the Boxster S starting at $55,700. The price tag puts this car on the table with the likes of BMW's Z4 3.0si at $42,700, the Mercedes-Benz SLK350
at $50,950 and the Audi TT 3.2 Roadster
at $45,140. Also of note is the upcoming Nissan 370Z roadster, which should be priced above $30,000.
What We Think
There's a reason the Porsche shield is respected both on the street and in the paddock. The company's decades of racing knowledge directly translates into the cars in their showrooms. The new Boxster is the latest manifestation of that knowledge, complete with the most advanced engine and transmission ever to find its way into their now iconic convertible. Though the sticker price may be a bit steep, the Boxster offers a great way to get into the Porsche experience.
Porsche's PDK Transmission
Porsche is aiming to up the gear-shifting game with its new double-clutch, or PDK, transmission. The unit is actually composed of two different gearboxes mated together, with gears 1, 3, 5, 7 and reverse in one unit and 2, 4 and 6 in the other. The result is what feels like a constant flow of power. As the clutch on one unit opens, the other closes at the exact same time, allowing for instantaneous shifts that can't be matched by a standard manual transmission. While eye-blink shifts are great for the racetrack, they also help the new Boxster to save fuel.
The PDK transmission is ideal for those who want the precision of a manual without having to fuss with a clutch. The unit can be left in "automatic" mode where the Boxster's onboard computer selects which gear is best for certain situations. It can also be operated in "sport" mode, where the driver selects gears via paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.